Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A day on the upland trails

The Safari and BD set off early in the morning to meet up with a group of fellow green-lane enthusiasts led by CB of UK Land Rover Events at perhaps the bleakest coastal car park we’ve ever been to. So bleak no-one got out to take a pic of the group altogether before setting off, it's usually this time the introductions are made and everyone gets to know each other.
 After a few lovely days summer was over and it was back to the end of February, heavy rain with sleet mixed in blown horizontal by a fierce wind. Some low mist was involved too, just to ruin the views of the scenery.
The first part of our trek was along farm tracks sodden with the rain across empty moorland, being the last vehicle in the group meant lots of hopping in and out and getting rained on for B as he was on gate closing duty so those pesky sheep don't get into the wrong fields.
The sat-nav showed where we were – the middle of nowhere!
Hang on, shouldn't there be some roads on there?
The spring scenery was probably stunning with views up to the higher mountains and out across the sea and Morecambe Bay but the mist and rain prevented us from seeing it.
Nothing too challenging to start with but all that was to change on our next lane when we were told to engage our diff lock…it doesn’t work too well on the Land Rover and it’s a bit of a risk putting it in in case it doesn’t come out so it was with a little trepidation we watched the more capable Defenders bouncing up the rocky steps. There was no turning back so it was onward and upward with fingers crossed. The Disco did us proud and easily waltzed up without much trouble and just enough right boot to keep the momentum going without trying to hurry or race. We got to the top and then discovered not only had we not needed the diff lock we’d forgotten to engage the low ratio gears when we came off the road – the Disco climbed a 40 degree slippery rocky staircase in normal road gears – that auto box is a beaut…but we’ll remember to put them in next time we come off the tarmac otherwise there could be some serious gearbox explosions and/or the risk of getting unextricatably stuck!
All the while we were on the look out for any wildlife we could spot. The mosses were easy, there's a whole garden of them up there in England's 'rain forests'.
For lunch we stopped at the forestry centre where B disappeared for a few minutes just before two Ravens flew right over the car park, a species he's not seen before - a bad dip!
Trendy forest visitor centre
From there we hit a trail known as The Fox a forestry track, one we've driven a few times now but always worth the trip. It was near here that some Red Kites were released a few years ago but the dreadful weather meant we stood little chance of seeing them today.

As the day progressed the weather improved and the scenery started to come out of hiding.
These are the 'stairs' mentioned in the 'Going up the stairs' pic on our sidebar
Where's there's brown Bracken there used to be probably used to be high scrubby forest, denser forest would have been on the bright green fields 1000+ years ago

That's the Safari tying on our broken rock slider - sure we knocked it off on the same boulder last time we were here
 The sun came out a bit too
Decent into Little Langdale
There is some serious conservation work trying to revive the fortunes of upland Juniper which has suffered the ravages of over-grazing by sheep and aging so that there is little fertile seed produced. In areas where it is still vigorous sheep are now being excluded and seedlings frown in the nursery and planted out if there isn't enough natural regeneration. It was a the top line of the scrubby forest long since gone now. Although the landscape looks beautiful to many those with an ecological eye see little but the remnants and scars of a ravaged land.
Unfortunately there is now a Phytopthora fungal disease which has been identified as coming from South America which is attacking them.
This stand looks healthy enough
The tradition of sheep-farming goes back many hundreds of years, probably to the Vikings if not much earlier perhaps even the Bronze Age - it's a long long time since the hills were fully forested with an accompanying suite of animals such as Wolves, Wild Boar, Eurasian Brown Bears, some still linger in the names of the hills and valleys.
Here's a few more trail pics.
Eventually we came out of the forest and on to open fellsides to find the sun had come out and the mist lifted to give us splendiferous views of the higher ground.
The Fairfield horseshoe - we've climbed that many times
Red Screes in the left middle-ground, Ill Bell and Yoke in the distance
With snow Red Screes Froswick, Ill Bell, Yoke and Buck Crag
At the foot of Buck Crag is an old road, Garburn Pass we worked on in the 80s making culverts and putting in drainage so that it was passable to vehicles. Sadly now it is closed to motorised vehicles due to the prejudices of some in the walking fraternity. If they knew how much effort we put in moving rocks up to two tons in weight with just crowbars and muscles.
We'd love to get up close and personal with that part of the world again but it is now beyond our walking capabilities - thanks a bunch Ramblers...NOT...and with getting so many lanes closed you've made honey-pots out of the remainder making you complain even more and some of those are also used by the farming community so will still have vehicles on them anyway. Have you seen the 'motorways' your boots have made across the high tops? They're a bit wider than the trails we've used today,
The Langdale Pikes
Bowfell? top left with snow
 There's a bit of architectural heritage around these parts too
Old church at High Nibthwaite - think that's where it is
By the size of the windows we reckon 16th or 17th C. And look at the Sedum on the ledge above the window
Elterwater village at the end of our journey
Here's a trek we did a few years ago covering some of the same trails

In wildlife news we've just had a couple of Swallows (Garden #25) go over and weren't sure that we didn't hear a Sand Martin earlier.
Patch 2 has been kind to us with a Yellow Legged Gull (P2 #45) yesterday and the day before and a probable 1st winter Caspian Gull today, it was distant in the dark rainy gloom but we hope we got enough of a description to get it past another CB.

Many thanks to BD for his exceptional pics - far superior to the usual out of focus poorly exposed rubbish you normally see on here - you've been spoiled this week that's for sure.

Where to next? Looking good for some migrants tomorrow
In the meantime let us know who's wobbling about in your outback

1 comment:

cliff said...

Some of those roads look like they need the potholes sorting out!
Looks like a fun day out with stunning scenery.